A Victorian-Era Cincinnatian Basically Invented the Comic Strip

Showcasing the comic book pop genius who came out of the Queen City.

Photograph Courtesy of The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

The comic artist and animation pioneer Winsor McCay might not have invented the comic strip (which he basically did) if he hadn’t lived in Cincinnati. At the very least, he wouldn’t have been quite so weird. The young illustrator arrived in 1891 to become the house artist for Kohl & Middleton’s Dime Museum on Vine Street, a popular sideshow-slash-oddball emporium, before making it big in New York City. Much of his work is on view in Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, including the titular Little Nemo—of which Bill Watterson (he of Calvin & Hobbes) has said, “Every page is a marvel…never has another comic strip taken such full advantage of the visual possibilities for surprise.” McCay died in 1934, but he’s still surprising us today.

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, thru Oct 23, cartoons.osu.edu


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